Red Dead Redemption 2 already took home a lot of game of the year awards in 2018, but the long-awaited Rockstar sequel is back and aiming to win over a new audience in late 2019. The Red Dead Redemption 2 PC port launched on November 5 and, for players with a machine that can meet the game's requirements, it's the best way to experience the old west yet.
Rockstar spent years working on Red Dead Redemption 2 and the insane details put into every blade of grass, flake of snow, and tuff of fur really show. The game looked gorgeous on consoles and the Xbox One X enhancements really did take it up high-end PC quality. That said, the additional control that PC players have over those visual settings really allow power users to optimize the experience for their preferences.
Before diving into the settings, it is important to note that some players have had RDR2 PC crash on startup. We actually experienced this problem as well, but were easily able to fix the issue with a quick NVIDIA driver update and running the Rockstar Launcher as Administrator. After that, we didn't hit any performance issues aside from some long waits while loading up a save from time to time. The game is pretty resource intensive and even users with top of the line SSDs are going to be waiting up to half a minute for a save to load on occasion.
But the wait is well worth it. Once the massive 100+ GB game is installed and running there are a ton of options in the Settings menu for players to tweak and create their ideal mix of details and FPS performance. Out of the box the draw distance and lightning enhancements are already pretty stunning, but players can continue to tweak if their machine is up to the challenge. There is no option for real-time ray tracing at launch, but that's the only notable exception. The game does include a laundry list of other customizations including texture, lighting, shadow, and reflection sliders, mirror and water quality, options for temporal anti-aliasing), fast approximate anti-aliasing, and multisample anti-aliasing. Did we mention that doesn't even touch on the Advanced Settings?
The Advanced Settings are going to be locked by default, but power users will likely end up pushing the limits here, as well. The section includes more detailed control of particle lighting, water refraction and reflection quality, and other atmospheric details that can be pushed to the limits or toned down to increase performance. Obviously only players will really top of the line rigs will want to push these beyond the recommended defaults.
Minimum Specifications:• OS: Windows 7 - Service Pack 1 (6.1.7601)• Processor: Intel® CoreTM i5-2500K / AMD FX-6300• Memory: 8GB• Graphics Card: Nvidia GeForce GTX 770 2GB / AMD Radeon R9 280 3GB• HDD Space: 150GB• Sound Card: DirectX compatible
Recommended Specifications:• OS: Windows 10 - April 2018 Update (v1803)• Processor: Intel® CoreTM i7-4770K / AMD Ryzen 5 1500X• Memory: 12GB• Graphics Card: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 6GB / AMD Radeon RX 480 4GB• HDD Space: 150GB• Sound Card: DirectX compatible
Beyond taking control of settings, there are a few other key selling points to the PC port that make Red Dead Redemption 2 well worth revisiting. The optional keyboard and mouse control may not be for everyone, but it is a fantastic option that really makes works well with the game's gun combat. The accuracy of firing off a six-shooter or rifle with the precision of mouse controls can't be beat and we went through a lot less ammo in this version than when playing with a tradition console controller. Surprisingly, the mouse and keyboard setup also made the first-person view feel a lot more natural. We still played through the vast majority of the game in the traditional third-person camera setup, but fans of first-person may find it easier to look around with the mouse/keyboard control setup than with a controller.
The primary new feature available in the PC port is Photo Mode. With a game as gorgeous as RDR2, it's kind of shocking that this wasn't built into the original launch, but it's well worth the wait. Although Photo Mode won't make any changes to the way that the game's primary campaign is played, the option to slow down and capture some gorgeous images while out completing side quests, riding, hunting, or surviving a snow storm is a ton of fun. The new mode is super intuitive and, although it's not game changing in any major way, is a great addition for the types of players who want to take their time and enjoy some extra hours in 1899.
The game's narrative and mechanics remain mostly unchanged in this port and readers interested in a full breakdown can check out our original review of Red Dead Redemption 2. The PC version does include some new content including Bounty Hunting Missions, Gang Hideouts, and addition weapons. The new world content fits seamlessly into the existing world and act as a nice bonus for players who have already put in dozens of hours on consoles and want to experience some brand new quests.
Red Dead Redemption 2's PC port is available now. Game Rant was provided a code for this review.